Vegetable steaks from pea protein
ETH Zürich / Martin Hofmann
Whether it's sausages made from tofu, burgers made from fermented mushrooms or chicken made from pea protein, meat substitutes are becoming increasingly popular and it's hard to imagine local supermarkets without them. But what has been missing from the range so far are plant-based alternatives for high-quality meat products such as steaks.
If Martin Hofmann has his way, this will soon change. The materials scientist has developed a process that can be used to produce vegetable steaks from pea protein and fat. He is primarily targeting people who, like himself, are not vegetarians but want to reduce their meat consumption and eat a plant-based diet more often.
"I want to help bring a healthy, environmentally friendly and animal-friendly substitute product for high-quality meat to the market that is as close as possible in taste to the animal original," says the ETH researcher.
The kitchen as the first laboratory
Martin Hofmann was almost born into the natural sciences. His mother is a biochemist, his father a botanist and his sister works as a geologist. Scientific experiments were as commonplace in the Hofmann household as board games or soccer in other families. "After all, every kitchen is nothing more than a small laboratory," says the ETH researcher.
Hofmann is studying chemistry and materials science at EPFL and is coming to ETH Professor Jan Vermant's Chair of Soft Materials for his doctorate. There he studies the flow properties and mixing behavior of emulsions. Hofmann shows that it is possible to control very thin layers of oil and water flowing past each other so well that an emulsion with a regular structure results. He quickly realizes that this method can also be used to artificially imitate the texture of meat.
From beef to pea protein
The tender feeling in the mouth, the juicy taste and the pink hue: two things make biting into a steak so unique: the fibrous structure of the meat and the distribution of the fatty tissue, also called marbling. "Nature took a long time in developing a beef muscle. Replicating that requires a whole lot of research," Hofmann says.
Only by managing to biochemically replicate the protein structure of meat will the plant-based alternative feel like meat. For his plant-based steaks, Hofmann therefore uses a range of flavors and spices as well as a pea protein whose structure he approximates to its animal counterpart in the lab. To imitate the fibrous structure of meat, the protein mass is pressed under pressure into a specially designed attachment and enriched with chopped carrot, pea and wheat fibers, as well as some water and oil.
In Hofmann's vegetable alternative, the fatty tissue characteristic of steaks consists of a simple emulsion of water and oil, into which additives such as vitamins and trace elements can be integrated. Since the fat content of the emulsion can also be greatly reduced, the plant-based steak is not only more environmentally friendly, but also healthier than the animal-based original.
Chaotic fat fibers
Marbling is an important quality characteristic of steaks. If it is very pronounced - as in Japanese Kobe beef, for example - the meat is considered to be of particularly high quality. Artificially producing marbling, however, is anything but simple.
"You have to recreate something that has no regularity at all. Because if we look at one half of a steak, we simply can't deduce what the second half looks like," Hofmann explains. Only products that take this randomness of nature into account can mimic the unique taste and mouthfeel of a steak.
"I want to make it a tiny bit easier for people to avoid cheap meat from factory farming."
Drawing on his research into the mixing behavior of soft materials, Hofmann is developing a process in which the pea protein and fat flow into each other in a way that results in the marbling typical of high-quality meat. "Advective processing" is what he calls this method, which, unlike common 3D printing methods, continuously presses the protein mass and the fat into an attachment, mixing them in the process.
He combines two components to achieve this: The hardware, consisting of two extrusion nozzles for the pea protein and one nozzle for the fat. And software programmed by Hofmann himself that controls how the two substances are mixed.
Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.
Other news from the department research and development
Startup HyPhoX develops miniaturized biosensors with support from BAM
"The innovative thing about our sensor is that we combine optical, electrical and biochemical analytics on one chip, and we do it in a handy, portable device"
Green, sweet and crisp - New apple variety Pia41 approved
The apple bred at the Julius Kühn Institute receives variety protection
A microchip for Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano, p-Chip Corporation, and Kaasmerk Matec Partner to Launch Breakthrough in Food-Safe Digital Tracking Technology
Ice cream will never be the same again
World’s first Solein® gelato now available to consumers in Singapore
The physics of gummy candy
Dozens of ingredient and storage combinations reveal what factors make some gummies harder than others and how product formulation affects shelf life
Heura Launches Good Rebel Tech, a Multidisciplinary Scientific Approach to Redefine Plant-Based Food Manufacturing
Heura’s New Technological Platform Utilises Nutrient Dense Materials from Industry By-Product and Non-Utilized Plant Sources
Fruit prosecco or classic vanilla? The ice cream trends 2023
Vegan ice cream will continue to be trendy
The Hershey Company Introduces New Plant-Based Additions to Hershey's and Reese's Brands
The iconic brands' newest chocolate confections made with dairy alternatives are everything you love about milk chocolate… minus the milk
Fiber Bottle Collective based on Dry Molded Fiber
PulPac and PA Consulting announce Bottle Collective to minimise single-use plastic waste
Tetra Pak commences first-of-its-kind research into fibre-based food packaging
Aiming to provide fresh insights towards the company’s journey to develop the most sustainable food package
Most read news
Dunning-Kruger effect with muesli bars
Those who know the least consider themselves highly competent
Naked Clams: The New Superfood Sensation Emerging from the Depths
Researchers found Naked Clams contain almost twice the amount of Vitamin B12 as blue mussels and have developed an efficient way to farm them
Pushers, overcrowded trains and phone zombies
Sprite presents the world's first vending machine that responds to the things that bother Generation Z the most
Tönnies Group launches first nationwide "Meat Climate Platform"
100 guests at the Future Forum for Agriculture
From the trough to the plate - digitally calculated
Computer program "ConTrans" estimates how much of an undesirable substance is transferred from animal feed to food
Could eating turkey ease colitis?
According to data in mice, extra tryptophan could reduce the risk of future colitis flares
Are healthy foods automatically sustainable, too?
Perceptions about sustainability and healthy food choices are closely linked
Study of sourdough starter microbiomes to boost bread quality and safety
USDA grant to fund research that may benefit those with celiac disease
More news from our other portals
Microbes could help reduce the need for chemical fertilizers
A coating protects nitrogen-fixing bacteria: Start-up to commercialise coated bacteria for large-scale use in regenerative agriculture
New drug delivery system could reduce daily diabetes shots to just three a year
Dietary management drugs have transformed Type 2 diabetes care, but daily injection routines are challenging for some patients
Scientists use quantum biology, AI to sharpen genome editing tool
"This study represents an exciting advancement toward, understanding how we can avoid making costly ‘typos’ in an organism’s genetic code"
Inauguration of the world’s first pilot plant for the cost-efficient production of green methanol
Start-up C1 Green Chemicals AG and research partners develop fundamentally new production process
Fatty acid factory filmed at work
High-resolution images provide new insights into cellular fatty acid production: Potential for medicine and biotechnology
This is a battery
Two colored liquids bubbling through tubes: Is this what the battery of the future looks like?
How stem cells and immune cells communicate
Lisec Artz Award for Simon Haas: Groundbreaking discovery of an unknown protective mechanism against blood cancer from stem cells
‘Hot’ new form of microscopy examines materials using evanescent waves
“This microscope technology is completely new, so we’re still learning specifically how and where it can be applied”
Not so silver lining: Microplastics found in clouds could affect the weather
Low-altitude and denser clouds contained greater amounts of microplastics
Award for innovation in the detection of PFAS compounds
Thuringian startup and Fraunhofer Institute receive Lothar Späth Award
New designs for solid-state electrolytes may soon revolutionize the battery industry
Scientists achieve monumental improvements in lithium-metal-chloride solid-state electrolytes
Converting PFAS “forever chemicals” into valuable compounds
Scientists develop a new method to incorporate harmful perfluoroalkenes into N-heterocyclic carbene ligands
Graphene's proton permeability: A switch for future energy technologies
This discovery could lead to the development of more efficient hydrogen fuel cells and solar water-splitting devices
The Largest Biotech City in Europe Will Soon Be Built
The entire BIO CITY complex will span an area equivalent to 10 football fields, total investment expected to reach around 7 billion euros
Plants transformed into detectors of dangerous chemicals
Scientists engineer plants to speak in color
Lithium-ion batteries are no longer the gold standard in battery tech
On the way to safer and more powerful energy sources
Breakthrough in the synthesis of artificial cells
Researchers develop artificial cells from synthetic materials
X-rays reveal how glasses lose their stability
PETRA III experiment shows how atoms in glass behave as weaknesses appear
Vulcan officially opened its Lithium Extraction Optimisation Plant
Europe’s first plant for fully domestic lithium chemicals production, to secure Europe’s lithium supply chain for Battery Electric Vehicle manufacturers
Taking antibiotics back in time
“Recreating such an ancient molecule was exhilarating, akin to bringing dinosaurs or wooly mammoths back to life”
CO2-free hydrogen: BASF receives funding approval for 54-megawatt water electrolysis plant
Proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer expected to produce up to 8,000 metric tons of hydrogen per year